After years of hoping and wishing and waiting, “The Fight of the Century” is upon us. Floyd Mayweather (47-0) and Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2) will square off at the MGM Grand on Saturday night, and two legacies will be forever altered. The public – even non-boxing fans – will be watching with keen interest.
That’s what happens when hype meets greatness.
“The public wanted to be sucked in,” Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I mean, the fact that this fight didn’t happen when some felt it should have actually ended up being a positive because both these guys are more famous than they were five years ago, especially Pacquiao (with) all the Jimmy Kimmel stuff. And Mayweather doing WWE and retiring for awhile – he got attention. I think it kind of worked in a weird way for both guys that the fight didn’t happen when maybe it should have.”
Unfortunately, this fight is about more than just boxing. Pacquiao’s background is squeaky clean; Mayweather’s is not. In fact, people have gathered in Las Vegas to protest Mayweather’s well-documented history of domestic violence.
Farhood has mixed feelings about the protesters.
“First of all, most of the stuff that’s happened to Mayweather – and there’s no denying that it happened – happened a long time ago,” he said. “It’s not new. This is not his first big fight with that issue. Now, if somebody doesn’t want to order the fight for that reason, fine. Don’t order the fight for that reason. Don’t order the fight because Floyd’s not often in great fights. That’s all fine. But I think there’s a double standard. The NFL, we know some of the players in that league are not exactly choir boys, all right? There have been tons of domestic violence issues. But the NFL has a way of dealing with this. They have an infrastructure and a PR staff that handles and spins. Boxing doesn’t have any of that.”
But what about the Nevada Athletic Commission, which has more or less ignored Mayweather’s controversial past? Shouldn’t the commission be criticized for that?
In a word, yes. But that’s just the nature of big business.
“It’s no secret what kind of money a Mayweather weekend brings to Vegas – both to this hotel and to the city,” Farhood said. “If you want to say this town is built on money, wow, what a shock.”
As for the actual fight, Farhood feels it could unfold exactly how many experts predict it will – or it could go the exact opposite.
“I’ll tell you who gave us the blueprint for how to beat Floyd Mayweather: Oscar De La Hoya,” Farhood said. “But he couldn’t finish. He got tired. The problem with Manny Pacquiao is Manny Pacquiao is not Oscar De La Hoya. He had him. I think to give Floyd a lot of trouble, you got to be rangy, which Manny isn’t obviously. He’s very short. And you’ve got to mix being outside, where he can’t counter you too easily, with what Oscar did, which was rough him up (and) force him back.”
“If Floyd has trouble with Manny’s speed, I could see a little role reversal in this fight,” Farhood continued. “Because Floyd is the bigger guy. He’s also, probably, the better in-fighter. If he has trouble with Manny’s speed, I could see Floyd trying to force an in-fight – actually be the one coming forward, which is not what most people think will happen. Manny’s not an in-fighter. Manny likes to strike and step back out. I could see one kind of fight. And if Floyd is winning that fight by counter-punching mainly with his right hand, then fine. He’ll fight like floyd.”
“But I could see if he has trouble with Manny – early, especially – I could see him changing up a little bit and trying to get inside because he knows he’s the bigger, stronger guy.”